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Kings notes: Karl reluctant to play matchup games with the Kings’ lineup in flux

Sacramento Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein (00) holds his hand after he injured a finger on a defensive play against the Boston Celtics in the fourth quarter with teammate Sacramento Kings guard James Anderson (5) on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015 at Mexico City Arena in Mexico City. Kings lost their home game in Mexico 114-97.
Sacramento Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein (00) holds his hand after he injured a finger on a defensive play against the Boston Celtics in the fourth quarter with teammate Sacramento Kings guard James Anderson (5) on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015 at Mexico City Arena in Mexico City. Kings lost their home game in Mexico 114-97. hamezcua@sacbee.com

Kings coach George Karl would love to do more things with his lineups to dictate action, but he’s not in position to do that yet.

A quarter of the way through the season, the Kings are still too focused on figuring out their own team to worry about how they match up with opponents.

Karl would like be more creative, but the inability to keep a consistent rotation, due in part to injuries, has made Karl less adventurous.

“I like flow and rhythm and energy probably more than I like matchups,” Karl said. “So do you coach matching up against Houston, or do you coach playing to the strengths of your team? And there will be certain games where we’ll do that, but right now I’m more worried about getting our team in a more confident place.”

The latest change was losing center Willie Cauley-Stein to an open dislocation on his right index finger. Karl said the Kings would miss Cauley-Stein’s speed and athleticism on defense.

Cauley-Stein’s absence hinders the Kings’ ability to play with a big lineup as often as Karl would like. Having two 7-footers available (Cauley-Stein and Kosta Koufos) had solidified the frontcourt defense for Karl.

“It comes in different packages,” Karl said. “Replacing Willie is different than replacing (DeMarcus Cousins). And replacing Darren Collison when he was out was different than replacing Rudy Gay. It’s just different. I’m sounding like it’s more complicated and more important than it probably is, but when you’re losing, it gets magnified.”

That’s why Karl’s focus has simplified.

“For me, it’s getting us confident and finding an answer to some of our defensive nightmares,” Karl said.

Recovery time – Cauley-Stein said he didn’t have much of a reaction when he heard his prognosis after injuring his finger Thursday night in Mexico City.

“Just listened to them,” Cauley-Stein said Saturday before the Kings lost to the Houston Rockets 120-113 at Toyota Center. “Not much I could do about it.”

Cauley-Stein was injured when he slapped the ball and then hit the backboard. He immediately went to the bench for medical attention.

“I knew something wasn’t right,” Cauley-Stein said.

Karl said the injury will not hurt Cauley-Stein’s ability to stay in shape. Cauley-Stein said he’s not sure what that will entail.

“No, not yet,” Cauley-Stein said. “I haven’t heard much yet.”

Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones, read more about the team at sacbee.com/kings.

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